Some thoughts on the Rebels from a 1-2 stay in the SEC tournament. …
Since going 3-for-5 in Game 2 against Mississippi State in Oxford, Auston Bousfield has one hit in his last 32 at-bats. He was 1-for-12 in Hoover.
Through the years Mike Bianco has been known to tinker with his outfield, inserting a hitter, if he had one on the bench, and sacrificing defense if need be.
Bousfield is not a guy you want to tinker with in center field. He’s an excellent defensive player, a weapon out there, but he needs to produce more offensively. He can be a weapon on the bases too, and his average has steadily declined of late.
Sikes Orvis was hitless in Hoover, 0-for-8. He got off to a slow start this season and has been up and down since, one of those guys who has shown periods of production. This is not one of them.
In the larger body of work Tanner Mathis hit really well down the stretch and lifted a batting average that was once at .220 up to around .275. He was just 2-for-11 in Hoover but seems like a guy who could have a hot hand in the regional. He certainly did last year at College Station.
Left-handed reliever Jeremy Massie was shelled by Mississippi State in Game 3, the first arm out of the bullpen when the Rebels were trying to protect a 6-0 lead. In Hoover he pitched in two games and went 3.2 innings with one hit, no runs and one walk. He’s the biggest reason that Ole Miss can say the bullpen pitched better in the SEC tournament than it did down the stretch of the regular season.
Another reason is Aaron Greenwood. Greenwood gave up five hits over 3.1 innings but was able to hold damage to a minimum with four strikeouts and only one walk.
Starting pitching was good all three games. You know Mike Mayers has a chance to be dominant when he heads to the mound, and Sam Smith is beginning to go longer in games.
Smith doesn’t have the “stuff” of Bobby Wahl or Mayers. Teams put more balls in play, but when he gets good defense behind him – and he has lately – Smith has a chance to go fairly deep in a game. He went six innings against Arkansas, scattered six hits and walked only one.
Mike Bianco wasn’t too concerned with the fact that Wahl didn’t pitch in Hoover. Wahl would have started today if Ole Miss had won yesterday. The rest isn’t a bad thing either, and Bianco talked about an intrasquad or something to simulate intensity for Wahl’s workout this week.
Starting pitching is the reason this team could have success in the right situation in a regional.
Pitching and defense have been the personality of this team all year. The bullpen may be hitting a stride to allow the Rebels to say that again.